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‘Remarkable’ resilience of persecuted Christians focus of new film

Saturday, November 12, 2016 8:30
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South Bend, Ind., Nov 12, 2016 / 08:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christian persecution around the world is the focus of the documentary short film Under Caesar’s Sword, and the people it portrays.

“What is remarkable about persecuted Christians is their resilience. They are not just victims. Understanding this is the key to being in solidarity with them,” said Daniel Philpott, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame and the movie’s co-director.

The 26-minute film shows Christian communities in Turkey, India and elsewhere which suffer religious freedom violations. It interviews Christian families, refugees and regional leaders as well as scholars.

Under Caesar’s Sword focuses on their “creative strategies” to survive, build alliances and resist persecution, Notre Dame News reports.

The erasure of Christian culture in the Middle East is one focus, as is human rights activism among Christians in India.

In the Kandhamal riots of late 2007 and early 2008, rioters in the eastern India state of Odisha killed 45 people and destroyed more than 80 churches. Christians were targeted for forced conversion to Hinduism.

In the film, the widow of a man who refused to convert recounted how he was tortured and killed in front of her and their two children.

“They beat my husband badly as we pleaded with them to stop,” she said. “They dragged him for a kilometer with a cycle chain around his neck.”

Timothy Shah, associate director of Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project, reflected on many Christians’ response to persecution.

“Christians have spontaneously responded to their own suffering by enlarging their concern and compassion and work for justice to include others as well,” Shah said.

“It’s important because that’s what their faith calls them to, but it’s important too in that I think many Christians realize the only world in which they are going to be more secure is a world in which everyone is more secure.”

Open Doors USA, an advocacy group that serves persecuted Christians in over 60 countries, said more than 7,100 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015. An estimated 100 million Christians endure some form of persecution each year.

The documentary film was directed by Jason Cohen Productions. It was produced by the Under Caesar’s Sword initiative, a partnership of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project.

The Under Caesar’s Sword film is available at no cost on-line, as is a discussion guide for groups. It can be seen at the website ucs.nd.edu/film.

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